When to harvest herbs

Kaitlyn Posts: 2 ✭✭✭

So I have the beginnings of an herb garden both culinary and medicinal in my urban permaculture landscape. I want to find a way to systematically learn when to harvest each one. For right now, I would just like to find out if it is fine to harvest my Comfrey for simple tea at any time other than when it is flowering. Thank you if anyone can tell me!


  • Obiora E
    Obiora E Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭

    @Maginel I have harvested Comfrey leaves in the Spring, Summer, and also in the Fall. I typically harvest in the morning and wait for the dew to evaporate.

    And you can also eat Comfrey leaves. I have harvested fresh leaves and put them into my eggs as well as dried beans and lentils.

  • KarynPennington
    KarynPennington Posts: 9 ✭✭✭

    I would LOVE more information on this too. It seems we hear what things are good for and what plant parts to use but not so much when/how to harvest. Doc Jones gives pretty good info on this -- If you're using the leaves you want to harvest those before flowering; if you want the flowers -- well that's easy -- at their peak; if you want the root, usually in the fall after leaves fall or in spring before buds start. Of course, this not exact for every plant, but a good generalization. I know I'm learning as I go (and as quickly as I can) and watching this past summit, using the courses/certifications on this (and other) sites is really helpful, but when you're learning something new, it's hard to get ALL the information you need ASAP.

    What I LOVE, is when different herbalists join together and bounce off of each other. I love how Kami McBride supports Rosa de la Floret (probably butchered that, I'm sorry) with the Taste of Herbs energetics course. and Rosa defers to Rosemary, etc. It's not about competition, it's about getting the word out and I love their collaboration. I also love how they're all very knowledgeable but very different. I love Doc Jones humor -- it's goofy and may annoy some, but I love it! I LOVE Kami's enthusiasm -- I really don't think it can be matched and I love how calmly Rosa presents, it's very soothing. Sorry - bit of a tangent.

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,613 admin

    Hi @Maginel I hear you! I'll be looking to find a way to get more really specific, step by step, info on harvesting herbs. Thanks somuch for letting me know what you want or need. That is what the Grow Network is about.

    I am guessing a lot of these herbalists just do it and don't realize that some very basic 'how to' would be hlepful.

  • lmrebert
    lmrebert Posts: 363 ✭✭✭✭

    I think one issue can be for people who live in areas that do not have clear season changes. We get confused and so do our plants. The upside is we can have some plants a lot longer or they come back when they are only supposed to be an annual! Anyways SoCal can be challenging... 🌱🌿

  • gardneto76
    gardneto76 Posts: 528 ✭✭✭✭

    @lmrebert I agree! Phoenix here. I have the hardest time knowing when to harvest a plant, pull one due to end of season, or let it go. I even struggle with getting herbs started and flourishing! I have a thyme plant that has 1 1/2 green branches, which is better than the 1/2 green branch it had 2 weeks ago. Hoping it continues to improve. Some of my tomatoes are going into season #2-3.

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft Yes sometimes it would be very helpful to know not just when but also how to, some people learn with visual teaching,like for and example harvesting burdock root when and how to harvest and dry

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 945 ✭✭✭✭


    @Maginel Minnesota here and when the plant flowers is when I harvest it. Not all of it, so it can cycle again and flower, harvest, and repeat

  • nksunshine27
    nksunshine27 Posts: 343 ✭✭✭

    @teachercaryn Idaho here, somethings like burdock ive learned the root is harvested its first year, ive heard that milk weed root is harvested after it flowers. mullin root also leaves 1st year. comfery still not sure when to harvest the root, mine is in a pot and it doesnt like being in a pot but its the only way i can grow it at the house. so i really think it depends on the plant the medicinal purpose your using for. i know for positive that if i want to harvest choke cherry bark i need to harvest it when the berrries are on

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    I've heard that you shouldn't harvest nettles for internal consumption after they bloom. I haven't found anything conclusive about it, though.

  • maimover
    maimover Posts: 359 ✭✭✭

    @Karyn Pennington i too love the collaboration between and with the herbalist. There is so much wisdom in each one. The one thing I am finding in this community is that although each herbalist may have a different thought process or method of using herbs they all (at least in my observation) want to impart enough knowledge for everyday folks to be able to identify and use them correctly and effectively (holy run on sentence). Even with differing views the goal is the same to reach, teach, and help as many people as possible to be their healthiest and happiest versions...better for us, the environment, and the planet.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 2,102 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I too am still learning and trying to figure out when to harvest what. I did find that one herbalist (and right now I cannot remember who) suggested as a quick rule of thumb that you harvest the part of the plant you need based one when it is at it's best form in nature. Leaves in spring when they are full of nutrients, flowers of course when they bloom and roots when nature is puling everything back into them in the fall as they prepare to store the nutrients for winter.

    This makes sense to me. So until I learn otherwise I have tried to follow this. Maybe it will help others. Or someone more knowledgable will correct me.